LivingSocial’s growth catches the eye of nearby counties
By Steven Overly and Jonathan O’Connell,
LivingSocial distributes daily and instant deals to its worldwide network of subscribers, but for area economic development shops, the District-based firm may be the moment’s hot item.
Officials from several economic development agencies have engaged in talks about luring the fast-growing company across city lines, though no formal bids appear to be on the table right now.
The company’s appeal is clear. A third of its 2,000 workers worldwide are local, and executives are hiring more staff by the handful each day — and leasing sizable office space as a result. What’s more: News outlets report the company may soon file to go public with a valuation worth several billion dollars.
“We’ve talked to them. We talk to a lot of companies. We heard they were looking in the region, and we’d love to have them join the crowd of Montgomery County successful businesses,” said Steve Silverman, director of the county’s economic development department.
Those conversations have not progressed to the point of any specific incentives, he added.
LivingSocial executives have expressed an affinity for the District at public events and the company’s staff is primarily comprised of young, tech-savvy workers who often flock to more urban environments.
“We love being a D.C.-based company and so do our employees. Of course other municipalities have approached us throughout our dramatic growth phase and we look forward to having similar conversations with the District,” spokeswoman Maire Griffin said in a statement.
Arlington officials reached out to the company but were left with the impression that it’s not shopping around. “They had spoken to LivingSocial but it’s their understanding that they’re staying in D.C. at this point,” said spokeswoman Kelly Rindfusz.
City officials say they are working to make sure that the company remains in the District. “We have been having conversations for the past few months, starting with me and going all the way up,” said David Zipper, the city’s director of business development.
Zipper was promoted to the role by Victor Hoskins, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, last month and said he is making incubation of the city’s burgeoning technology industry a top priority.
He recently hired a point person, Jennifer Boss, to focus on the industry full time, and said he sees active, urban neighborhoods such as the East End — where Living Social recently leased an entire 26,000-square-foot building — as hubs where tech firms are looking to put down roots.
“That crowd is going to be much more interested in D.C. than in Reston, Virginia,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean Virginia is uninterested in them.
“Being a tech hub as we are here in Loudoun County, we look to expand our base constantly and would be interested in any company like LivingSocial coming to Loudoun County,” said Buddy Rizer, the county’s business development officer, who declined to comment on whether talks had occurred.
Fairfax County’s economic development agency also declined to comment.